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  1. Abstract

    In this study we explored the environmental conditions hypothesized to induce a dominant charge structure in thunderstorms in the province of Cordoba, Argentina, during the RELAMPAGO‐CACTI (Remote sensing of Electrification, Lightning, And Mesoscale/microscale Processes with Adaptive Ground Observations‐Clouds, Aerosols, Complex Terrain Interactions) field campaigns. Hypothesized environmental conditions are thought to be related to small warm cloud residence time and warm rain growth suppression, which lead to high cloud liquid water contents in the mixed‐phase zone, contributing to positive charging of graupel and anomalous charge structure storms. Data from radiosondes, a cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) ground‐based instrument and reanalysis were used to characterize the proximity inflow air of storms with anomalous and normal charge structures. Consistent with the initial hypothesis, anomalous storms had small warm cloud depth caused by dry low‐level humidity and low 0°C height. Anomalous storms were associated with lower CCN concentrations than normal storms, an opposite result to the initial expectation. High CAPE is not an important condition for the development of anomalous storms in Argentina, as no clear pattern could be found among the different parameters calculated for updraft proxy that would be consistent with the initial hypothesis.

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  2. Abstract

    A new automated method to retrieve charge layer polarity from flashes, named Chargepol, is presented in this paper. Using data from the NASA Lightning Mapping Array (LMA) deployed during the Remote sensing of Electrification, Lightning, And Mesoscale/microscale Processes with Adaptive Ground Observations (RELAMPAGO) field campaign in Cordoba, Argentina, from November 2018 to April 2019, this method estimates the polarity of vertical charge distributions and their altitudes and thicknesses (or vertical depth) using the very‐high frequency (VHF) source emissions detected by LMAs. When this method is applied to LMA data for extended periods of time, it is capable of inferring a storm's bulk electrical charge structure throughout its life cycle. This method reliably predicted the polarity of charge within which lightning flashes propagated and was validated in comparison to methods that require manual assignment of polarities via visual inspection of VHF lightning sources. Examples of normal and anomalous charge structures retrieved using Chargepol for storms in Central Argentina during RELAMPAGO are presented for the first time. Application of Chargepol to five months of LMA data in Central Argentina and several locations in the United States allowed for the characterization of the charge structure in these regions and for a reliable comparison using the same methodology. About 13.3% of Cordoba thunderstorms were defined by an anomalous charge structure, slightly higher than in Oklahoma (12.5%) and West Texas (11.1%), higher than Alabama (7.3%), and considerably lower than in Colorado (82.6%). Some of the Cordoba anomalous thunderstorms presented enhanced low‐level positive charge, a feature rarely if ever observed in Colorado thunderstorms.

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